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January 30, 2009

What Ted Said on Oprah

Art.haggard.oprah.harpo Did anyone see Ted Haggard on Oprah yesterday (Jan. 29)? What do you think? Joe Dallas, author and past president of Exodus International, has an excellent article on the interview. A former gay man himself, Dallas shares his thoughts on what Haggard said at the interview, what he wishes he’d said, and what needs to be said to shed more light on God’s true word on homosexuality.

Dallas concludes:

Given the volatility of the subject and Oprah’s pro-gay position, I appreciate Ted’s efforts. In the coming years, who knows how many other believers will find themselves pointedly asked, “Is homosexuality a sin? Doesn’t God love gays? Shouldn’t we all just accept who we are?” To which I hope we’ll all have the grace to say, in our own words:

Everyone sins, and God alone decides what sin is. That’s why He inspired men to write the Scriptures, so we’d know what’s expected of us. And someday all of us will answer to Him for how well or how poorly we’ve met those expectations. I receive Christ because I knew I’d never meet them on my own, and He promised to pay the price when I fell short. So is homosexuality a sin? Sure, look it up. Does God love gays? You bet. But should we all just accept who we are as we are? Only if that means accepting that we’re loved by God, called to follow Him, and willing to surrender our will to His.

(Image © Harpo Productions)

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Comments

LeeQuod

Jason wrote: "Did anyone see Ted Haggard on Oprah yesterday"

In line with the latest Point Poll, I wouldn't watch on a dare any TV show where the name starts with the letter "O": Oprah, the Oscars, O'Reilly, the Obama Channel (whatever happened to it?), the Oxygen Network, ...

Mike D'Virgilio

I didn't see Oprah (in fact I never have!), but I did see the HBO special, and it was heartbreaking. He is definitely a stand up guy and I respect him for that. I'm sure he, and the HBO documentary, play as something of a Rorschach Test for the viewers, especially for those who see Christianity as an oppressive, homophobic enterprise steeped in hypocrisy and illusion.

What stood out to me is how a person's and a church's theology matter. As a Pentecostal (at least that was the church he went to in Arizona) he wouldn't have a deep theological tradition and structure upon which to deal with the profound issues he faces. That's why I think his answers to questions were so emotive and not rooted in something deeper than his experience or the Bible. I think having a systematic understanding of Scripture is more helpful than isolated passages or verses.

Not that it would make his struggle any less intense. But it would help him to better explain the nature of a Christian life lived in a fallen world and a fallen body.

Jason Taylor

"As a Pentecostal (at least that was the church he went to in Arizona) he wouldn't have a deep theological tradition and structure upon which to deal with the profound issues he faces."

Er, perhaps you'd care to rephrase that laddie?

Randy

Thanks for highlighting this great article and Exodus!

Mike D'Virgilio

Well Jason, I can try. Certain Christian traditions have a more systematic, intellectual approach to their faith, such as the Reformed tradition, whereas others have a more emotional or interpersonal approach, such as Pietistic traditions. Each can tend to overdo what they tend to focus on and ignore the just as important other side. So I'm not saying one's all bad and the other all good.

In my opinion there are certain strains of what is now broadly known as evangelicalism that are anti-intellectual. I came to Christ in such an environment. So much so that when I got out of college and started broadly reading I was warned by some well meaning Christians that straying from reading the bible was dangerous. Of course I was still reading the bible, just not exclusively.

I could go on for many, many paragraphs about this, but Ted Haggard appears to come out of such an environment. It's not a judgment, just an observation. And it's easy to judge somebody put under the lights of a condescending secular culture. And I can't tell you how much I respect the man, how he has stood up and taken it all like a man. He hasn't made excuses, blamed others, given in to anger and bitterness. Not to mention stayed faithful to his vows and family.

So obviously his faith tradition has helped him to deal with it. But I still believe that a faith more grounded in theology, in a more systematic approach to belief is a more powerful way to deal with life as a Christian in a fallen world. Just my opinion. I think it also helps us deal more effectively with a hostile culture that belittles our faith and values.

You may not agree with any of this, but I hope my "rephrasing" helped you understand my point a little better.

Jason Taylor

Actually I was more amused then offended and that was a Star Trek quote which you might be aware of.
And yes there is an anti-intellectual tradition in Evangelicalism. Although one might note that if you take that line you have to explain how the Borgias managed to subsist more skillfully then Ted Haggard in the highly developed Catholic tradition.
And theologically undeveloped or not, Evangelicals do usually know that betraying a preacher's trust, betraying ones wife and family, running off with another man, and then claiming to be persecuted, isn't quite kosher.

Jason Taylor

And as far as reformed theology goes, while it is hard to think of any Calvinists who were loathsome scoundrals, I can think of several who were fanatically ruthless. Irish do not say, "The Curse of Ted Haggard be upon you".
So one might note, as if any reminder is needed that moral rectitude and theological training are not necessarily associated.

Mike D'Virgilio

Jason, I must not be quite the ST fan you are, but I relate to your thoughts. Everything about the man, the situation, the documentary left me conflicted. Part of it is the bile that wells up within me when I think of the schadenfreude the secularist Christian haters I know are experiencing. And also how it so perfectly plays into the secular paradigm of repressive Christianity. And so and and so forth. It's all just a reminder how hostile American culture is to Christianity and most everything it stands for.

And indeed I understand how what one knows and what one does do not necessarily have anything to do with one another. I know myself. But one thing about those Calvinists, they sure as hell are consistent!

Jason Taylor

Fine enough.

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